Vignettes Along Frances' Path

Vignettes along the path of Hurricane Frances:


Paula Kundu, 23, and Amala Merritt, 25, had planned their first "grown up" vacation in Florida at an oceanfront resort in Sunny Isles Beach.

But after the two women arrived in nearby Fort Lauderdale on Thursday morning, they found the resort evacuating guests.

"I called yesterday and they said they didn't think the hurricane would hit," said Kundu, a Morristown, N.J., native.

The duo had no luck booking a return flight to Newark, N.J., New York, Philadelphia or Boston. If they failed to land standby seats, they were prepared to hunker down at the airport, linked to worried family via cell phones.

"At least we'll be safe here," Merritt said.


Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach closed Thursday afternoon as the park and its inhabitants prepared for Frances.

"We plan to remain closed until we see what happens with the storm," said spokeswoman Jennifer Berthume. "It's the third time in history that we are forced to close."

Preparations began Monday; on Friday the attraction's bigger residents -- lions, chimps, elephants and rhinos -- will go into their night enclosures, made of concrete and steel. The other animals will remain out in the preserve.

"We've learned through our own experiences that it usually is safer for them," Berthume said. "We do have perimeter fence line and there is also a moat surrounding most of the park. The animals usually don't go into the water. We have staff that will be there at all times."

The safari has a veterinary station on the property. "We prepare for this all year round," she said.


Hurricane Frances didn't shutter every Cocoa Beach business Thursday.

Inside the Cabaret Lido, a windowless, stucco facade with a pink awning, a stripper twirled in a circle around a pole while a half-dozen men watched. The manager would not comment or explain why she decided to keep the club open.

The sign outside read, "Frances, Please Go Easy. We Are Open All Day."

About a quarter-mile down coastal Highway A1A, Cheaters Gentleman's Club, also remained open.

The Doors' "Love Her Madly" was booming on the sound system while a dancer wearing a G-string strutted on stage and another flirted with a customer. Manager Karen Manion said all the employees arrived on time.

"We're staying open until we're told to close," Manion said. "We'll stay open as long as people want to walk through the door. As far as I'm concerned, it's sunny and bright out there."

A sign outside read: "No Storm Rains on Our Parties."


Hurricane Frances was bearing down as some downtown Orlando restaurants were still feeling Charley's sting.

When an 11-day power outage at Nigel's Bread and Butter Cafe spoiled the inventory, insurance wouldn't cover damages, costing owner Nigel Kendall $5,000.

Kendall thought about bringing in a generator, but realized it wouldn't be enough to satisfy the electricity demands of 11 refrigeration units. He plans on a half-day of business Friday.

At Wildside's, a downtown restaurant, a few lunchtime diners enjoyed what could be their final good meal before Frances.

"This isn't the apocalypse. I just went through a divorce -- that's an apocalypse," joked manager Bill Clark.

Wildside's lost a weekend's worth of business when Hurricane Charley struck Friday, Aug. 13. Now Clark, 45, glumly pondered the reality of closing over Labor Day weekend. "We'll just play it by ear," he said.


With league play starting soon at Colonial Lanes in Orlando, bowling practice trumped Frances for 71-year-old Ed Hilderhoff.

"I wasn't scared off today but I will be [Friday]," said Hilderhoff, surveying a nasty 7-9 split.

Alley manager Cliff Couch said one league canceled for the night, but two others still planned to bowl. Colonial Lanes usually is packed Thursday afternoons, but the storm's threat kept almost everyone away.

"Gives me more room," Hilderhoff said before missing the 9-pin.